Mere waiting and looking is not Christian behaviour… Christians are called to sympathy and action.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer

In Matthew 5 Jesus says, “let your light shine before men that they might see your good deeds and praise your Father in Heaven.” The Christian community is called to adorn the gospel with good deeds that God has prepared for us to do. From early in church history, the church was known for its concern for the poor and the orphan and their good work won the empire. This commitment to kindness, coupled with prayer, proclamation and signs and wonders was a powerful persuasive force in the advance of the church. It’s not that we “do good works” as a missionary tactic, we do good works because God has called us to loving kindness and demonstrated it to us as well through his Son. All that to say we are to live beautiful lives that express God’s heart to those around us and as we do, we glorify God. In Micah 6:8 we see what the Lord requires of us-“He has shown you O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with your God.” Generosity to the poor is a powerful expression of the love of God and we are called to it time and again in scripture. So who can you be showing kindness too? What skills and abilities to you have that intersect with real human needs, that you could be God’s hands and feet into?

Pray-
So let’s pray for opportunities and strength to respond to need around us. Pray that we as a church might be light in darkness in our community and pray that our good deeds might adorn the gospel.

Grace and peace from Marcus

The Son of man came eating and drinking. Isn’t that a way of doing mission that you could do? When you combine a passion for Jesus with shared meals you create a powerful gospel opportunity.” Tim Chester (Meals with Jesus)

I was talking to my friend this week (over a meal on him) and he was saying that God had placed his neighbours on his heart. He had connected with each of them and wondered if God was calling him to minister to them somehow, but how? Earlier in the conversation he was telling me that he had “dropped the ball on mother’s day, and his wife was a little disappointed- but he said I managed to retrieve the situation by cooking her a meal, a really special meal.” As he contemplated how he was going to reach his neighbour, he was probably hoping for more, from his pastor friend, all I managed was- “perhaps you could invite them over and cook for them.”

It’s interesting to me, how often we find Jesus eating with people. In his case, he seemed to draw invites and say “yes,” to them. He did not have a house to call his own after all and yet it is amazing how often these shared meals became moments of significant, life changing encounter. It’s also surprising how often Jesus used meals, banquets and food language to talk about kingdom matters (Luke 5, Lk 7, 9, 14, 22 & 24). I wonder if this is a model worth imitating. I wonder if the practice of simple hospitality with love and welcome could in God’s hands be changed into life changing, kingdom shaping moments in the lives of those around us. Why not give it a try?

Grace and peace from Marcus

“The Lord now chose seventy-two other disciples and sent them ahead in pairs to all the towns and places he planned to visit. Now go, and remember that I am sending you out as lambs among wolves.” (Luke 10:1, 3)

When Jesus sent out his 32 pairs of missionaries (and as he sends you) he indicated that ministry is hard and dangerous. From Luke 10:1-20, the mission field is where your labour force is weak (v.2) and your opponents are fierce (v. 3). Your short travel itinerary and amenities are far from ideal (v. 4) and your accommodation completely dependent of others (v. 7). Your message will often be rejected (v. 10) for your obedience will alienate you from the world (v. 11). The work of the kingdom is truly a labour of love.

However, we are free from the potentially overwhelming burden of success. The ‘Lord of the harvest’ is responsible for sending in labourers (v. 2) and the response to the Gospel (v. 16). Our rejection is his rejection and subject to his justice (vs. 13ff). We do not need to stay awake at night worrying about our success. Our charge is to remain faithful in prayer and intimacy with God. For under his authority (v. 17) we will return bursting with excitement and rejoicing over all that Jesus achieves through us (vs 17 & 20).

Sounds adventurous and dangerous, count me

Grace and peace from Marcus

“All people on earth will be blessed through you.” (Gen.13:3)

In Genesis 12, we see that God sets his heart on Abram. He chooses him and calls him, telling him that he has resolved to make him into a great nation. But Abram’s election is not only to be a blessing to Abram himself- but his election has a purpose- in fact his election is much bigger than him. Scripture tells us that the blessing on Abram was a blessing that would result in all of the people’s on earth, being blessed through him.”

Abram was childless and old. His wife was barren and God promised to bless him with a child. This in itself was an extraordinary promise. But it was just the beginning of what God had in mind for Abram. His election, and his being chosen would lead to the birth of a nation, ultimately it would lead to the birth of a king- the Messiah, King Jesus, whose life, saving death and resurrection would indeed be the basis of blessing for all nations. Surprisingly though, the implications of the election of Abram, although largely fulfilled in the coming of Christ- still play out for us here and now.

If we are in Christ, we too are blessed, chosen in order that we might be a blessing to the nations. This is mission, being chosen by God in order to be a blessing. We talked about something of the blessing we have received in Christ last week through Ephesians, but remember it all culminated in us being God’s workmanship called to do good works, put simply we are blessed to be a blessing.

Grace and peace from Marcus

“Death has been swallowed up in victory.”
“Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?”
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

1 Corinthians 15 has much to say about the resurrection. At the heart of it is the bodily resurrection of Christ himself. It is because of the fact that God raised Jesus to life- declaring him to be the Son of God with power, that believers also can have the hope that they are not simply destined to be worm food. Instead, they will be raised to life on the last day though faith in Christ Jesus.

Although of course, everyone dies- Paul says that this should not cause us to grieve without hope- in Christ there is great reason for hope. Paul captures that poetically here- death has been swallowed up in victory, it has been defeated, and it has lost its final sting. Were as sin ushered in death, Paul says that though Christ we can know what it is to conquer death and for that there is reason to give thanks.

What about here and now as we await our death? Paul seems to think that here and now is profoundly affected by our future hope. He seems to think that if there is no resurrection there is very little reason for anything much really in the here and now- but because there is hope, beyond the grave, Paul encourages us and says stand firm. Don’t let anything move you because you know that your labour in the Lord is not in vain.

Grace and peace from Marcus